Politics

Memo to the House

Adopt the filibuster

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The filibuster is sure taking its lumps these days. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says "the Senate—and, therefore, the U.S. government as a whole—has become ominously dysfunctional." The Democrats won the White House and Congress last year and should have had no trouble passing the health care overhaul, yet "the need for 60 votes to cut off Senate debate and end a filibuster—a requirement that appears nowhere in the Constitution, but is simply a self-imposed rule—turned what should have been a straightforward piece of legislating into a nail-biter. And it gave a handful of wavering senators extraordinary power to shape the bill."

Why is this "dysfunctional"? I assume Krugman would praise the filibuster if a President Palin and Republican Congress were ramming bills through. Regardless of what senators in the 19th century had in mind, the filibuster is a wonderful antidote to the tyranny of the majority. It's no argument against it to say that the statists' favorite piece of legislation didn't fly through smoothly enough. They'll have to come up with a better case than that.

There is no greater threat to individual freedom and autonomy than government. The threat from private freelance crime is small potatoes compared to the daily usurpations of the state, with its taxation, regulation, privilege-granting, inflation, and war. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's immortal passage has never been topped:

To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place(d) under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.

That just about covers it.

So I favor any procedural methods that can slow down government's legislative juggernaut. During the health care debate, commentators often referred to the lawmaking process as sausage-making, a reference to this quote, usually misattributed to Otto von Bismarck but spoken by poet John Godfrey Saxe: "Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."

What those commentators overlooked is that it's the taxpayers who get ground up.

Of course, the filibuster and other stalling methods can be used to stop bills that would advance liberty, like tax cuts and the repeal of restrictions. But I'll play the odds. On any given day, what is Congress more likely to do: violate or expand liberty? As 19th-century New York Judge Gideon Tucker put it, "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session."

Libertarian science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein had a good idea. One of his novels depicted a bicameral legislature with one chamber needing a supermajority to pass laws and the other needing only a minority of votes to repeal them.

By the standard of protecting freedom and keeping government caged, that's not a bad idea. It should be easier to repeal laws than to pass them.

After all, look at what Congress has been up to lately. Our "leaders" are on the verge of passing a Rube Goldberg-like contraption that would raise insurance prices, compel everyone to buy insurance, increase America's debt, destroy jobs, and limit innovation. Low-income people, as usual, will get the worst of it—despite the politicians' boast that they are "covered."

If any piece of legislation is worthy of procedural burial, this is it. One need not be a fan of Republicans to be pleased that they gave the filibuster a try.

So let's not kill the filibuster. In fact, I have a better idea: Let's extend it to the House.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at www.johnstossel.com.

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  1. Yet as John Stossel points out, it’s no argument against the filibuster to say that the statists’ favorite piece of legislation didn’t fly through smoothly enough. They’ll have to come up with a better case than that.

    Piffle. What more evidence could you possibly need? These obstructionists are EEEVULLL.

  2. OUR GOVERNMENT WAS DESIGNED TO BE DYSFUNCTIONAL. THAT’S THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT.

    I’d use the blink tag for this, if available.

    1. YFCLO, ProLib. No need to shout. You can whisper those words and it’ll catch the eye of most of us here.

      1. Stares silently at screen.

    2. <blink>OUR GOVERNMENT WAS DESIGNED TO BE DYSFUNCTIONAL. THAT’S THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT.</blink>

      I’d use the blink tag for this, if available.

      Not available.Curse those damn squirrels.

    3. <blink>OUR GOVERNMENT WAS DESIGNED TO BE DYSFUNCTIONAL. THAT’S THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT.</blink>

      I’d use the blink tag for this, if available.

      Not available.Curse those damn squirrels.

    4. <blink>OUR GOVERNMENT WAS DESIGNED TO BE DYSFUNCTIONAL. THAT’S THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT.</blink>

      I’d use the blink tag for this, if available.

      Not available.Curse those damn squirrels.

      1. I meant to do that;)

          1. People of the world, join hands
            Join the HURR train, HURR train

            1. I WANNA RIDE!!! WAAAAA!!!

  3. That picture really needs alt-text.

    1. “…and bless Barrack, and Joe, and Hillary. And please Jesus, give Ben Bernarke a heart attack so I can have his job…”

  4. Perhaps if we had more parties in power, a filibuster wouldn’t be needed to slow government growth. But with only two parties, the majority can easily get a majority vote to add some new monstrosity to the law books.

    As our government stands now, I’d like to see a two-thirds vote to end a filibuster.

    1. Two parties? How do you figure we have two parties?

    2. “As our government stands now, I’d like to see a two-thirds vote to end a filibuster.”

      That’s what it originally was, 2/3.

      It was watered down to 3/5 back in the late 60’s or so (under Mansfield, IIRC), because the Dems had ~62 votes, which is >3/5 but

  5. Shorter Krugman:

    Obstructionism is evil and un-American when the GOP does it. Even when it’s is a terrible, fascistic piece of garbage legislation and a colossally bad idea that is being obstructed.

    When the Democrats do it, it’s patriotic, necessary and essential to the preservation of the rights of the minority from that evil Hitlerian dictator BushCheney.

    Yawn. Next column, Kruggy.

  6. Libertarian science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein had a good idea. One of his novels depicted a bicameral legislature with one chamber needing a supermajority to pass laws and the other needing only a minority of votes to repeal them.

    Which Heinlein novel was that? I may need to reread it …

    Oh, and the filibuster isn’t strong enough. It should take about 90% of the votes to pass something, and 10% to repeal it.

    Majoritarian democracy is kleptocratic mob rule of the 50.1% who are power-hungry enough to get elected to office.

    1. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. There are several suggestions as to alternative ways of organizing a democracy to maximize legislative nonproductivity. Mine is just to deduct 1 cent from their salary for every word spoken (by anyone) on the chamber floor.

      1. All bills must fit on one piece of paper in text readable by human eyes (no microprint).

        And The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is a great fucking book.

    2. Yay for oligarchy!

      1. Couldn’t the U.N. be considered an oligarchy.

        1. Couldn’t the U.N. be considered an oligarchy.

          Considering it takes the despotic, the autocratic, and the tyranny-of-the-majority democratic, and weighs their assembly votes equally, whilst the true reigns of power reside entirely within a higher council with five permanent members anointed by virtue of being victorious militant powers who enjoy unlimited veto, I’d say yes, it’s an oligarchy.

          An oligarchy (Greek ?????????, Oligarkh?a) (oligocracy) is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royal, wealth, intellectual, family, military, or religious hegemony.

      2. Yeah, it’s not like the Congress steals from middle class folks and gives the money to wealthy bankers and political allies when it’s being active.

        Oh, wait…

      3. That’s my line.

    3. Majoritarian democracy is kleptocratic mob rule of the 50.1% who are power-hungry enough to get elected to office.

      [Initiate Tony-simulation]

      Hey, you consented to this system by being born here, and continue to consent by living here. If you don’t like it, work within the system to change it, or else move to North Korea.

      [End Tony-simulation]

      1. [continue Tony-simulation]

        I suppose you’d rather live in that libertarian paradise of Mogadishu!

        [end Tony-simulation]

        1. Well, it’s warmer there than here and I hear if you invest a rocket launcher on the pirate exchange you can get a terrific return on investment. If I show up on Wall Street with a rocket launcher, not only can’t I invest it but I will be thrown in jail.

          Granted, Wall Street probably smells better?

        2. Man, reminds me of a really funny South Park episode where Cartman leads the boys to Mogadishu to become pirates

      2. Tony wouldn’t use North Korea, as he agrees with their system.

    4. “Majoritarian democracy is kleptocratic mob rule of the 50.1% who are power-hungry enough to get elected to office.”

      Remember that 0.5 is rounded to 1. So 50% will suffice 🙂

  7. The quote of the year came today:

    “Besides, to be a Paul supporter, you’d have to be?well, nuts. The guy … is generally delusional when it comes to foreign affairs?so much so that to him, even a liberal pansy like Barack Obama is a war-monger.”

    Just go to http://www.frontpagemag.com and click on the pic of Paul.

    1. Hannity still hasn’t gotten over the Paul supporters chasing him through the streets of Manchester, NH last year.

      1. Nor should he. I told the guys who were chasing him that it was a mistake, and a couple of them agreed they were caught up in the moment. But honestly, I think I’d have a hard time not chasing Hannity down and raining snowballs on his jingo ass.

    2. Obama isn’t monging war?

  8. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The suggestion was a body with 2/3 of the votes needed to pass a law and a second body with only 1/3 votes needed to repeal the law.

    1. That’s the Heinlein novel. This was supposed to be a response to prolefeed.

  9. Our “leaders” are on the verge of passing a Rube Goldberg-like contraption that would raise insurance prices, compel everyone to buy insurance, increase America’s debt, destroy jobs, and limit innovation. Low-income people, as usual, will get the worst of it?despite the politicians’ boast that they are “covered.”

    But they mean well, goddammit.

    1. “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
      of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
      under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.
      The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may
      at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good
      will torment us without end for they do so with the approval
      of their own conscience.”

      C.S. Lewis

  10. I read the Moon is a Harsh Mistress awhile back and ever since then I’ve been in agreement with him on such a power in the Senate – repeal any law by 1/3rd vote. We need the Heinlein law at the Federal and State level.

    So many problems could be solved by removing laws, not burdening us with more.

  11. I’ve always like Heinlein’s suggestion as well. Since our Constitution has been reduced to rags, it’s what I’d like to see in the next one…

    I also agree that, besides returning to constitutional government, what this country needs most is additional parties – legitimate and widely recognized ones. But if there’s anything Demopublicans agree about, it’s the need to keep them out. The best solution would be no parties at all, but I don’t think that’s realistic. So the best solution would be eliminating the obstacles in place that make party development so difficult.

  12. Here’s whats so great about this thread: let’s say the nation in its anger at the over-reach of the Obama administration swings wildly to libertarianism. The people overwhelmingly seek to pass bills getting rid of the minimum wage, the Fed, ending our wars overseas, etc.

    If we had prole et al’s retarded set up these changes could be blocked as long as 10.01% of the legislators held firm to their “statist” beliefs and blocked them.

    Unless you are a Tolstoyian anarchist there is going to be some government and some policy to be made. That policy is going to be decided by either majority or minority rule. I agree with all those old dead white guys like John Locke and our Founders that government legitimacy derives from consent of the governed and that consent is best gotten via majority rule.

    1. MNG, I think there’s an implicit assumption here that you reset to a minimal state first, rather than implement this as an incremental change.

      1. My, that’s convenient!

        You know, I imagine most Marxists would, if the world were reset to a Marxist world, love to have it so no change could be made without 90% approval.

        WTF?

          1. That is not a good point at all. The only real solution is to recognize that no majority or minority can violate an innocent person’s rights. Not 10%, not 51%, and not 99.999999%. Never. Individual rights must be inviolable.

    2. If you read their proposals a little more carefully you’ll see that they include making it easy to repeal laws. The minimum wage, the Fed, etc. are existing laws; hence, easily repealed.

    3. let’s say the nation in its anger at the over-reach of the Obama administration swings wildly to libertarianism.

      I would still take an administration trying and failing to dismantle the leviathan over an Obama administration working in concert with Congress to grow the scope of the government.

    4. Let’s reel it in, MNG. Wake up my grandkids’ grandkids when anything like a shrinking government ever happens. Ever. EVER!

    5. I have to agree with MNG here. If you’re going to have a government, you have to make it at least somewhat functional, and allowing 10% of the legislature to block laws is going to make it utterly incapable of taking even legitimately constitutional actions. Also, it would be even more costly; we saw how Landrieu and Nelson were able to loot the treasury by threatening to withhold the 60th votes on health care, so imagine how often that would happen if the 90th vote were in question.

      Personally, I’d prefer a Sunset Amendment requiring every law to be re-passed every five years or become null and void. In the midst of a true short-term crisis, this would not make passing necessary laws any harder, but it would solve the problem of laws once passed becoming impossible to get rid of.

    6. I agree with all those old dead white guys like John Locke and our Founders that government legitimacy derives from consent of the governed and that consent is best gotten via majority rule.

      Yes, those same majoritarian Founders who required that the Constitution could be ratified with 9 states out of 13 rather than 7, and including in said Constitution a Senate that was purposely unmajoritarian, and requiring a 2/3 vote in both houses to overturn a veto by a President who is not required to be elected by either a majority popular vote or Electoral College vote, and having an amendment process requiring 2/3 vote in both the House and Senate, a presidential signature, and 75% of the states ratifying the amendment.

      Yes, those majoritarian Founders sure saw 50% + 1 vote as the sacrosanct level of approval for the law-making process.

    7. That’s why Heinlein’s proposal is the best idea of all. Make it easy to get rid of fucktarded laws, while making it really hard to pass them.

    8. No, MNG, I said 10% votes could repeal any law, and 90% was needed to enact a law.

      So, unless a law was widely viewed by the legislature (NOT the public) as a good idea, it would go away. Rules that barely half the legislature liked currently get enacted.

      P.S. In Hawaii, with 90% Democrats in the legislature, this rule would almost mirror the status quo, since most bills get passed 24-1 or 49-2 (depending on the chamber).

      P.P.S. An astonishing variety of laws, over half, get passed here with unanimous consent. That’s right, all 76 legislators vote yes.

      Under MNG’s dumbass system (the status quo), bills like the health care bill can get enacted despite being widely opposed by the populace.

      1. Most bills, that is, go on the consent calender (unanimous yes votes), and of the ones not on the consent calendar, most pass with only a few no votes, or else along party line votes.

    9. What gives one man a right to point a gun at another man and force him to do something?

      Why is tyranny by 51% justified and 49% not justified? Or 5%? Or 1%? Or 1?

      Wouldn’t things be more ‘efficient’ if we just had a monarchy?

  13. Consider a topic I’ve seen libertarians argue over: intelleectual property rights. In Libertopia whether there should be, the extent of and the nature of copyright, patent and trademark protection would have to be decided. Let’s say 10.01% of the public enjoyed a living made upon piracy of other people’s intellectual property rights, but the other 89.99% thought this was an egregious violation of their property rights. In proles Retardopia they would not be able to touch this.

    Of course if you are against property rights just flip the example around, like most right-leaning libertarians you’ll find it goes both ways 😉

    1. There is no such thing as IP, so that’s really not a problem. Try again; I know you’re trying to troll but you’re usually more skilled than this.

      1. Indeed. You’d think a doctorate of political science could do better.

      2. Looks like Epi is solidly in the 10.01% in your example.

        1. I’m an anarchist, so it really doesn’t matter for me, now does it.

          1. Well in that case you don’t care about the 90-10 or 2/3-1/3 thing either, I guess. Your political errors can be dispensed with in another thread, I guess…

            1. That sounds like a threat, Tulpa. Are you big-leaguing me, dude? You big-leaguing me?

              1. I’ve got a stack of untraceable snowballs right here, yo. A rabid dog peed on some of them, too. Don’t fuck with the Tulpa.

                1. Watch out where the huskies go
                  And don’t you eat that yellow snow

      3. Really, there’s not? So if you go and write a great novel, or release a fantastic album, or something similar, then I can just go and make copies of it and give or sell it to anyone and you won’t have a problem with it? Or, hell, take it and publish it under my name and make money off it and not give you any of the profits, and you won’t have a problem with that?

        1. Nope. I can’t stop you anyway in this age of digital reproduction, so even if I gave a shit, what am I going to do about it? Restrict everyone’s liberties, like the movie and record companies buying senators to pass draconian legislation, to stop a mere fraction of the duplication?

          IP is a fantasy that was able to exist when there wasn’t digital duplication. That fantasy is over. Whether you understand that or not doesn’t matter in the slightest; you will merely be ignored.

          1. Fantasy? or Allowable under Article 1 section 8 of the U.S. Constitution?

          2. Ah, so your argument is “I want music but I don’t want to pay for it.” Dismissed.

            1. Ah, so you’re creating a strawman argument for me so that you don’t have to confront the fact that it’s impossible to stop digital reproduction, so even if you fully believe in IP, how the fuck can you possibly enforce it?

              But hey, be a total douchebag and try to dismiss me as someone who steals music (which I in fact do not do) instead of thinking.

              1. Let’s see; it’s impossible to stop murder, so I suppose there should be no laws against it, eh? And just becasue there are *currently* few ways to guarantee digital products cannot be endlessly copied doesn’t mean that will always be the case….

              2. Fine, but your argument is stupid, as People Power Hour pointed out. Just because it’s difficult to enforce doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or should be done away with.

              3. Also, if IP doesn’t exist, then why do you not stealing music? Based on what you’ve said, it’s not even stealing.

                1. Er, “why do you not steal”, that is.

            2. Meh, musicians won’t stop creating music just because they no longer can have a monopoly.

      4. Congress has the power to…
        To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

        1. Is 100 years a limited time?

          Is 14 years?

        2. Well, nothing inconsistet here, it’s just that in digital age “limited times” means in practice something on the order of microseconds (before the first download on a P2P network happens).

        3. Is Rap a “useful art”

          Is Crash

          What about my book

    2. A better example is similar to the one I use here against jury nullification. Police officers who are acquitted of police brutality in a state court can still be charged with violating civil rights in federal court. Now, I’m absolutely certain you could find at least 30% support among the electorate for repealing the federal statute under which they would be charged.

  14. Quoting Proudhon??? Why don’t you just go ahead and quote Hitler?

  15. Forty-one senators representing 13% of the American population can block legislation.

    This is a feature, not a bug.

  16. Stares silently at screen.

    Oh, no- those blink tags have induced catatonia.

  17. In the holiday spirit, I will say that MNG has a point here.

    When you make it hard to change, you make it hard to change in your direction as well.

    Of course, since the default setting for government change is in the direction of growth, intrusion, and control, libertarians in principle can and should support anything that makes it hard for the government to change. 9 times out of 10, the “popular” change that is blocked by a supermajority requirement will be one that libertarians oppose.

    1. The article pointed that out, and MNG missed it. I guess. As I said, wake me up when 10.1% of the legislators are libertarians.

      Right now, we’ve got 637 (or however many of them there are) which fall into one of two categories:

      MNG and MNG lite.

      1. “The article pointed that out, and MNG missed it. I guess.”

        More like MNG never read it.

        Such a doctorate of political science as MNG already knows all and encompasses all. Why read the article when one can merely troll the threads and burp more information than you could ever know in your miserable little lifetime?

        1. Man bir, you’ve really got the degree envy big time…?Instead of all that envy, Why not try writing “doctorate” over top of your degree where it says “community college?”

          1. Its from a continuing education school not a community college.

        2. Briareus, you should feel bad about your community college education. No, that is not classism.

    2. Despite the fact that filibusters make bad laws harder to repeal, I still think they are a good idea. As technology and society move on, old laws start to become obsolete. I’m sure there are laws regulating horse carriages, but they don’t matter much anymore.

      Therefore, the state has to run just to keep in place. It has to constantly pass new laws just to keep the same amount of control it had in the past. Making laws harder to pass and repeal is a net gain for liberty.

      1. An automatic sunset is a better provision.

  18. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

  19. “the need for 60 votes to cut off Senate debate and end a filibuster?a requirement that appears nowhere in the Constitution, but is simply a self-imposed rule?turned what should have been a straightforward piece of legislating into a nail-biter. And it gave a handful of wavering senators extraordinary power to shape the bill.”

    “How dare those guys stand in front of our steamroller?”

  20. Now hold the phone. Now that Baby Jesus has the White House, Krugman doesn’t like the filibuster? Why that’s, that’s…

  21. From a libertarian perspective, a higher filibuster would block most new intrusive legislation and starve the bureaucracy to death. Unfortunately, it would hurt us in areas such as reforming the tax code (or as MNG points out, defending intellectual property rights) as one would need new legislation to do so. If no action is taken legislatively on these tasks, they will simply continue on in an unresolved state for perpetuity until enough votes could be gathered to break the filibuster. It’s true that most legislation is about growing government power, but limiting, reforming or holding accountable government power in some cases involves legislation as well. Two steps forward, one step back I guess.

    1. Well, no. If the government can’t enact a law, or keep it on the books, unless there is broad societal approval, you wind up with just a few laws that most everyone thinks are good ideas.

      That is a distinct improvement over the status quo. If a sizeable minority opposes a law, it shouldn’t be on the books.

      1. Right – I’m in agreement with you when it comes to NEW laws, but I’m talking about the difficulty it would cause for reforming or repealing bad OLD laws that can’t easily be undone by defunding and might not have any sort of sunset anyway.

  22. I favor any procedural methods that can slow down government’s legislative juggernaut.

    “Food fight!”

  23. I’m looking forward to the Krugman column that argues against the filibuster once Republicans control the Senate.

    1. +1, adam.

  24. Didn’t somebody somewhere once say “Affluence is it’s own governor”? Maybe we’ve had it too good for too long and since all we’ve got to do is watch football, soap operas, and get fat, there is little reason to read anything which may help us understand how much of what our government is doing is bullshit. I think I read somewhere that Milton Friedman once said “we’ve had a good run though, haven’t we?”. Eh, Happy New Year anyway…

  25. I thought the Republicans did away with the filibuster in 2005 or 2006? Are you sure they have the option of doing it?

    1. no they threatened to get rid of it when the dems blocked a bunch of bush’s judicial picks… but it was never actually done because the “gang of 14” brokered a compromise. This included the wonderful “moderates” McCain, Lincoln Chefey, Olympia Snowe and Lindsey Gramn

      1. And so, we have the corageous moderates to thank for allowing the filibuster to stay. Is that what you’re getting it?

  26. Now’s the time for. . .

    THE CENSOR!

  27. Just happened to find this amazing joe gem from back in 2006. Seems appropriate:

    https://reason.com/blog/2006/10…..ent_484875

    1. And here’s what I said to joe in that thread:

      joe, it’s a quibble over how my money is to be spent. Should it be spent by my taxes today or by my taxes ten years from now? I’m no fan of excessive deficit spending, but my whole problem really lies in the spending part, not the method for “paying” for such spending. Yeah, the Republicans suck, especially in their current iteration. But the Democrats are likely to be worse with the same amount of power, because even fewer of their number believe that limited government is even remotely a desirable thing. Even as they sit and observe what evil can be done with a comparatively unlimited government.

    2. Thanks for sharing. It’s kind of like watching a video of a nutshot. I want to read it over and over saying to myself “OW! How unfortunate!”

  28. Quoting Proudhon is normally a mixed bag of WTF. As per Kruginator, he is the most intellectually dishonest retard on the planet. I think he may have actually come full circle on the smart wheel and gone from brilliant economist (in areas) to complete drool bib wearing helmet donning fucktard. Arrogance can do that to ya, and god knows most economists have enough arrogance for us all.

    1. Since I missed the what to do with my audience article I’ll go ahead and run amok and off topic here.

      Get rid of the morons. An audience of well spoken people on both sides of the argument is okay. Flaming dipshits should be left to the studio audiences of daytime TV. I’d also like to see you use more Socratic method, you use it a lot anyway. But I’d like to see it used to drive morons like the Progressive you guy you had on with Mackey into the ground. He set himself up at least three times for a logic beat down and I can’t believe no one delivered.

      At the risk of an unseemly comparison, read to the end please, it would be nice to see you take the opposite show model that Beck has. (OH GOD I SAID IT) Beck plays the funny man while his guests play the straight man. He’s good at it. You are the consummate straight man. Maybe finding some Beck like people (the Progressive guy on the health care show was perfect) for you to straight man into the ground would work.

      I enjoyed your show, but I would shoot for a more informed less stupid audience on both sides of the arguments and a slightly more aggressive defense of your positions. I have no doubt you can deliver a well placed logical almost emotionless ass wiping using a simple Socratic method technique and do so in a gentlemanly manner. That, in my humble opinion, is what I think would work well.

      I liked the two shows and I will continue to watch in support. I’ve always admired your work, even more so since you got your head out of your ass.

      Play to your strengths, hire to fill in for your weaknesses, and create your own fate.

  29. There’s nothing ethical about undermining the democratic theory with a filibuster, then again the Senate is antimajoritarian anyways (two senators for Wyoming at ~.5 million, two for California at 35 million).

    1. Explicitly so! And that’s why the 17th Amendment needs repealing. Senators were meant to represent the states not the people therein.

    2. That’s why we have the House of Representatives.

      1. Well many would argue that’s all we need. Personally I’m a fan of having a lower house that allocates seats according to percentage of votes the party wins at a national level, while the upper house retains single member district Winner-Take-All elections (essentially what the House is now). The States aren’t people, and there’s nothing ethical about weighing them equally, it’s just the Connecticut Compromise.

        1. We have a federal system, not a unitary one, and for good reason. States should not all be alike.

          1. A federal system does not require that it be bicameral either.

            1. But if you don’t have a Senate, you are disanfranchizing the states, saying they don’t matter. Part of the point of both the Senate and the Electoral College is to preserve the power of the states. Just because someone can rack up huge majorities in New York and California doesn’t mean they should dominate the government.

              A lot of the aspects of our government are anti-majoritarian, including the Bill of Rights. That’s not always a bad thing.

        2. The little talked about fact of that sort of system is that the party chooses which people fill the seat allocation. I don’t think most people would think giving the parties that kind of authority desirable.

          1. How they do it is odd, it also includes a “raffle” so to speak, more or less a wishlist. But the single member district house would alleviate the issue of a region not being represented.

      2. The senators were elected by the legislatures of each State to represent each State’s interests. The House of Representatives do indeed represent the people of each state directly, but the Senate is supposed to represent each State as each was sovereign. The 17th Amendment made it possible to create a crony system in the Senate, which ends up being detrimental to the Republic.

        1. Absolutely. The thing most people forget is that the 50 states are soverign entities unto themselves, not puppets of the Federal government. And until the 17th gets repealed, they will never have their interests represented at the Federal level.

  30. RE: MNG,

    Consider a topic I’ve seen libertarians argue over: intellectual property rights. In Libertopia whether there should be, the extent of and the nature of copyright, patent and trademark protection would have to be decided.

    No, it would not. IP is sorely a construct of the government, as ideas are NOT property.

    Let’s say 10.01% of the public enjoyed a living made upon piracy of other people’s intellectual property rights, but the other 89.99% thought this was an egregious violation of their property rights.

    If the 89% of the people really though that, they would simply have to lock their “ideas” in a safe and not place them in public. Is that simple.

    Of course if you are against property rights just flip the example around, like most right-leaning libertarians you’ll find it goes both ways 😉

    Interesting that a person that espouses the idea of wholesale plunder of people’s property through taxation, you would be so preoccupied by an issue like IP.

  31. A two thirds majority (for passing or repealing) seems optimum. Laws are supposed to create order, so having a little inertia makes sense. Strictly speaking, there isn’t a lot of difference among the political class on most issues, and most don’t want to refight old battles. But if they did, and you had a nearly 50-50 split, and pure majoritarian rule, society would be completely remade every time a couple of seats changed hands. It would be far too sensitive to minor political changes. It already seems like we have something along those lines, flipping from unchallenged republican misrule to unchallenged democratic misrule ever more rapidly.

    Of course, personally, I would replace elections with a lottery (you could place your own name in or the name of a proxy). That way, 51% of the people would, in the long run, hold 51% of the power, instead of 100%. It would reduce the benefits of gerrymandering substantially, solve the problem of the professional incumbent politician, and bring more “ordinary people” to Congress. It would also reduce (in a good way) the legitimacy of office holding — people wouldn’t hold office because they are the Chosen One Who Speaks with the Voice of the People, they will always have gotten lucky, to some extent.

    Of course, a lottery works better for bodies with numerous members (a jury, the House of Representatives, the Electoral College, etc.); the odds of handing a lunatic the nuclear football if we tried that for president directly would be a little too high for comfort.

  32. InRe the 17th amendment and the proper formulation of the legislature:

    The States aren’t people, and there’s nothing ethical about weighing them equally, it’s just the Connecticut Compromise.

    Having a senate the represented the states none-the-less formed another check on governmental power.

    The pre-17th senate was more likely to resist federal mandates on issues—like drinking age, ID requirements, health care mandates, etc. etc—where no explicit constitutional grant of federal power exists.

    It is emphatically not democratic. But it is a good thing good thing, and I want it back.

    1. How is that sort of restriction a good thing? The Senate, its Filibuster, and originally its election via state legislature put a very small elite in charge of decision making. As far as the checks and balances part, early Madisonian theory is little more than making victory so damned near impossible by requiring a consensus that compromise comes about, see more on Fed. #10. The unhealthy thing here is -and if you read up on Madison post 1800 you’ll see he does change his opinion- that the faction that is largest is often times larger for a reason, i.e. maybe they have a good idea. If they don’t? Then party lines shift towards another side and they try something else.

      If I were to go ahead and use your example of health care, which by the way does not need to be explicitly provided for because of the elastic clause (which the Republicans in Congress obviously know) then I would concede that the Senate would most likely resist any change to the system, primarily because the Senators would be far more vulnerable to a handful of state legislators and lobbying them would be far more effective. There wouldn’t be Iron Triangles or Issue Networks affecting decisions on the health care industry, it’d be made out of kryptonite.

      1. How is that sort of restriction a good thing? The Senate, its Filibuster, and originally its election via state legislature put a very small elite in charge of decision making.

        That’s not at all true. IIRC, the People’s Chamber also has to approve all legislation, and in fact must initiate all expenditure bills. So really, this small minority is only a check on expanding government, not “decision making”. Yes, the scope of government could not be changed without them. No, they could not change the scope alone… Why, its almost like the founders set out to make it difficult to legislate at whim based on ideological fads!

        1. Well that’s also not entirely true, since expenditures,and more importantly the in Departments and Agencies still go through the individual committees, and the term “smoke filled rooms” is probably fairly appropriate in some cases.

          To be fair for the Framers though, they never imagined a small body of legislators having near exclusive control over everyday workings of regulatory agencies that are heavily intertwined in a sector of the economy.

          So once again, this still begs the question of why only the state legislature should represent a body of government as opposed to popular elections?

          1. The short answer is that the States were technically sovereign at the time of ratification. Look up the definition of Federation, from which we derive Federal. While the issue of primacy was settled by the Civil War in favor of the Federal government, even after the 14th Amendment the government of each state has a duty to enforce huge numbers of federal statutes that go unfunded, or under-funded. This adversely affects their ability to spend state funds as their constituents would have them. And yet the States cannot choose not to uphold Federal law without being occupied (see School Integration) by Federal troops. The government of each state then has a set of obligations to the Federal government that are different from a citizen’s obligations. When the Federal government is debating a change in these obligations the States deserve a seat at the table.

            Also, since state legislatures are elected by their people, it would seem that the process of selecting Senators is at least as democratic as the process of electing a President. Maybe you are also an opponent of the Electoral College, I happen to think that the founders thought a lot harder about abuse of power than the people who pushed through the 17th amendment.

      2. “The unhealthy thing here is -and if you read up on Madison post 1800 you’ll see he does change his opinion-…”

        If memory serves, when you are saying Madison changed his mind about this coincides with the point that the party Madison was the junior leader of started over twenty years of one party rule. Might have been a tad self-serving of him then.

  33. “wonderful antidote to the tyranny of the majority”?
    It is a fact (Science Daily, Dec. 31, 1009) that the powerful lie, cheat and steal, that they are hypocritical in demanding ethical conduct of others, and that tyranny is the sign of minority rule.
    The methods of the minority rely on false claims, ignorance, fear, and betrayal of the rights of others.
    Stossel, you must be standing on your head when you spout such claims.

    1. Dude, “tyranny of the majority” is a concept that is as old as Western Democracy. See what I did there? It’s called a hyperlink, and its the preferred way of citing “facts” on the interwebz. Try it some time. Otherwise people might suspect you of just typing up your opinion and attributing it to a more authoritative source. If you’re going to flame, do it right.

    2. Morton, when either Brand X Party is in the “minority”, they pull this horseshit. Regular as clockwork.

  34. Some Dems have been talking about ending the filibuster (I manage to choke down about five minutes of Ed Schultz radio bilge a day, there’s my source), but they won’t admit that if they DID get the filibuster shitcanned, they’d just pull their usual tricks and do it anyway – it worked when the law in Massachusetts got repealed so as to favor a replacement for Ted Kennedy, for instance…

    1. …and I’d go right along with it, because we’ll do anything to turn this country into a one-party rule sinkhole.

  35. health care, which by the way does not need to be explicitly provided for because of the elastic clause

    Tell me, precisely which “foregoing Power[]” or “other Power[] vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States” do you think requires the enactment of a nationalized health care system?

    It sure as hell isn’t “provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States” because any interpretation of this clause that allows National Health also allows National Food and National Shelter and National Not Having To Work For A Living, a condition otherwise known as Communism.

    Likewise, I don’t care if the majority has a good idea about how to run my life. It is not theirs to run. That is why impediments to the government “getting things done” are a good thing.

  36. Well that’s also not entirely true, since expenditures,and more importantly the in Departments and Agencies still go through the individual committees, and the term “smoke filled rooms” is probably fairly appropriate in some cases.

    We have smoke filled rooms right now. Every form of big government is run from smoke filled rooms. It is just that right now all the smoke filled room respond to the same messed up incentives to 1) crush any limits to their own power and 2) bribe the people with their own money without regard to costs or consequences as long as the get re-elected.

    When the chambers were elected by different mechanisms, the “as long as they get re-elected” incentive was different for each body, and more types of ill consequences could stop a bill in its tracks. That is a good thing.

    To be fair for the Framers though, they never imagined a small body of legislators having near exclusive control over everyday workings of regulatory agencies that are heavily intertwined in a sector of the economy.

    That would be because the Framers thought they were setting up a government of strictly limited powers that wouldn’t try to stick its nose into every corner of my life. Oh, I would that it were so.

  37. Not that it’s news to anyone around here, but it is still depressing to see what a partisan hack Krugman has become. As someone else pointed out, do you really think he’d be talking about the government being dysfunctional (we should be so lucky!) if it was the Dems blocking the GOP? But back in the day he really did used to be an interesting writer on economics. But writing stuff like this today would get his Democratic Shill card revoked. What happened?

  38. There is a very simple way to fix our government, REPEAL THE 16th AND 17TH AMENDMENTS! If the states would create a crisis by refusing to cooperate with the Feds and force them to call an Article 5 convention we could get it done.

  39. There is a very simple way to fix our government, REPEAL THE 16th AND 17TH AMENDMENTS! If the states would create a crisis by refusing to cooperate with the Feds and force them to call an Article 5 convention we could get it done.

    How sure re you that you wnt to live under the constitution that would get written now?

    Surely you can see that Tony and Chad and their ilk would be in there pushing for the new document to recognize a “right” to free health care and food and shelter and broadband internet access and anything else that struck their fancy that day.

    Admittedly, it would require a bit of a swing in the right direction to get a non-trivial number of states to go with non-compliance, but that is no guarantee of wisdom on the part of the New Framers.

    1. “… sure re you that you wnt to …”

      We’ve sorry to report deficiency in first letter procurement.

      Remedy commencing soon…

    2. You should change your name to IAM ARETRDWHODOESN’TUNDERSTANDANYTHINGABOUTHOWOURGOVERNMENTWORKSWESTOFTHEBIGMUDDY. An Article 5 convention would only PROPOSE new amendments. They would then have to be ratified by 3/4ths of the state legislatures. It doesn’t write a whole new Constitution. Try doing some research next time since when you don’t know what you’re talking about you look like an idiot.

  40. An Article 5 convention would only PROPOSE new amendments. They would then have to be ratified by 3/4ths of the state legislatures. It doesn’t write a whole new Constitution.

    Yes. It proposes amendments which can change any aspect of the constitution (with the minor exception of not depriving any state of its representation in the Senate without the states consent). Which is to say that such a convention can propose an essentially complete replacement document.

    Then we note the language

    when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress

    where is says that if a convention is called it takes 3/4 of the convention to ratify the amendment.

    The advantage of the congressional proposal approach is that the proposal is out there for all to see and to pressure their statehouses to either accept or reject. When you call a convention you are entering into a crap shoot.

    Which brings us back to the question: do you trust that new document will be as good or better than the current one? Why or why not?

    1. You really are ignorant. The “conventions” you reference are STATE conventions. Any proposed amendments are ratified by the STATE LEGISLATURES or in STATE CONVENTIONS.

  41. “President Palin”

    Stossel, don’t even joke about that one. I almost stroked on when I read that.

  42. Please Santa – next year I want a stocking full of clues.

  43. As long as we’re passing all these laws, couldn’t some one please pass one that outlaws economists with beards: there seems to be an awfully strong correlation between beards and terrible policy (Marx, Bernanke, Krugman … I could go on).

  44. I don’t get it. Congress not acting on any given issue can make just as much policy as acting on it. The system is meant to be arduous in the service of getting the best legislation. But it’s not meant to be completely logjammed by minority factions.

    1. I agree, Tony. You don’t get it.

      The system isn’t completely logjammed by minority factions. Plenty of awful shit YOU disagree with got passed despite minority Democratic opposition. The current system doesn’t protect minority factions ENOUGH from the tyranny of the majority, which majority about half the time is composed of people Tony and others of his ilk detest.

      1. You mean it doesn’t protect your favorite minority factions enough. Having majority rule in a legislative body is not a tyranny of the majority, it’s voting.

    2. Tony, when your party is in the minority, does it not do the same logjamming as the Repubs do when they are out of power?

      Double-standard won’t save you here.

      1. The level of unified opposition and use of the filibuster in the senate is unprecedented. You guys are so undemocratic it’s pathetic. If Congress has a choice whether to build a bridge, not building it is still making a policy choice. Why should a minority get every policy choice they want (no legislation), while the majority gets nothing? The senate is an undemocratic institution and I hardly think we need to make the house look more like it.

        1. Bravo!

          You have greatly impressed me with your arrogant asshat approach to demonstrating your blatant hypocrisy as well as your voluminous delusional knowledge about nonsense. So I really hope you have the chance to read this.

          So enlighten me, besides your personal admiration and reverence for democracies that don’t exist, and never did, why should it be a democratic institution?

          Surely a one with so superior of an understanding of our government as you realizes our form of government is constitutional republican, not democratic. The United States of America is not, nor has ever been a democracy. The whole idea of a constitutional republic is to prevent a tyranny of the majority.

          Considering the low opinions more than a few of the founders held for democracies, that they were mob rule, barbaric, flawed, certain to fail, an so on, and so forth, why would you even make such an assumption?

          You do understand the patriots that founded this nation were a minority, no more than a third of the colonists at the most, with the remaining two thirds or more either Tories or unwilling to participate leaving their loyalty at best questionable, so for obvious reasons a democracy would have been a wise choice only if their goal was immediate failure.

          Nevertheless, let’s get back to you and your unique and superior perspective.

          So which is it, Tony. health care? Or democracy? You aren’t going to be able to have it both ways. Want democracy? The majority of Americans don’t want your masters plan, so want your democracy you can’t have your free health care.

          So want your free health care? Then you’re going to need to shit can your sacred democracy.

          Do you even think about what you think you know? Because you are completely contradicting yourself in one paragraph so blatantly while attempting pass yourself off as being elite and knowledgeable that one can’t help but wonder if in addition to being a dupe and sucker eager to lay the blame on others whose only crime is their ability to do for themselves what you are either unwilling or incapable of doing be responsible, you may, it seems, also being mildly retarded.

          It’s really not that bad out there, Tony. In this country the world is only tough as want to make it. People climb all over each other trying to just get a foot in the door for the very opportunities you won’t take.

          If it’s really that bad for you, and you need to be nursed and cared for like an infant, I have a lot of Mexican friends who would love to trade places with for the opportunity to earn a living. I’m sure I can arrange it so all you’ll have to do down there is sit on your ass and be Tony.

          If you can’t make it here, you don’t have what it takes to make it on your own any where.

          Don’t like what you’ve made your life? Want to pity yourself, blame others, steal from honest people? Want to trash people’s rights, take their liberty? Then you be at least a fraction of a man about it and do it yourself. At least that way it would be possible to have a tiny speck of a shred of respect for you.

          Want to be useless, you have that right, as long you accept responsibility and what doesn’t come your way in your life because of it, no one will complain. You are free and can do that.

          Not enough? How about less than worthless? Justly despised as one betrayed your own people out envy and jealousy? Then you do that because you don’t have clue about this country, you can call yourself American, call yourself whatever you like, you’ll still just be a selfish coward who betrayed his own. Hope that works for you, because, they can’t give you what you’re stupid enough to actually believe you’re going to get, so unless you decide to quit your copping out and either accept, or fix, the problems you’ve made for yourself, it’s all you’re going to have for your crap choices.

          1. The majority of Americans want substantial healthcare reform and don’t buy into your stupid, incoherent, hypocritical antigovernment nonsense because they’ve seen what it’s got them. Zero net job gains in the last decade. Thanks Saint Ronnie!

            1. The majority of Americans want substantial healthcare reform

              The majority of Americans know that what is proposed now will make things worse and want nothing to do with it.

              Everyone knows what needs to be done to fix it. Free the market. But neither the government nor any of the owners of government want that. The insurance companies, AMA, ABA, and big pharma all need to have their cartels protected, and the government needs to do so or they don’t get paid. The unions and the AARP need to get their freebies on the backs of the taxpayer and the government needs to provide it so they get their payback from them as well.

              There’s a lot of money being sucked out out of the system by your wonderful government market management.

              And you think more government will make this better.

              Because it works so well in other countries.

              We have the highest cancer survival rates in the world all across the board why do you want to mimic other countries? Why do you want Americans to die, Tony?

        2. You didn’t answer my question, Tony:

          Do Democrats use the filibuster to block things they don’t want their enemies to accomplish, or don’t they?

          Saying, in essence, “it’s okay of WE do it” is not an answer, btw.

        3. You didn’t answer my question, Tony:

          Do Democrats use the filibuster to block things they don’t want their enemies to accomplish, or don’t they?

          Saying, in essence, “it’s okay of WE do it” is not an answer, btw.

          1. The filibuster isn’t in the constitution. I suspect it was never meant to be a regular part of the legislative process. I don’t think either party should abuse it as it is being abused now.

        4. Undemocratic is a virtue. Democracy is merely slavery with delusions of moral validity.

  45. Ahh, conservatives. There is nothing better people than people who would rather sink the ship than allow it to contradict their ideology.

    It is patently obvious that wherever we require super-majorities to get things done, nothing gets done, and we proceed to auto-pilot off cliffs.

    Of course, that is what you want.

    1. If it makes you feel any better, I wouldn’t oppose funding the sheltering of people like yourself so you could get the help you know you need. As long as it was attached to a law making it a crime for politicians to use and exploit or in way contact those among us unable to fend or even care for themselves due to disabling mental, emotional, or developmental disorders.

      1. Brilliant idea. I would add truth-in-advertising laws covering all political ads, and repeal McCain-Feingold, but otherwise a great post, Ratko.

    2. It’s your collectivism that’s heading off the cliff or haven’t you noticed?

      What problem is caused by freedom that government has ‘fixed’?

      Wars on drugs, terror, poverty, et al born any fruit recently? Other than teaching people they will be punished in proportion to how hard they work?

  46. Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pelosi, Obama, it doesn’t matter, the only way the socialist can get the result they desire is through tyranny.

    Republicans take to the same destination, they just take the longer scenic route. They owe us some restitution from screwing us when it was their turn. Until we can get these reckless jerks back on more equal footing where they effectively cancel each other out and nothing gets done, Republicans better fillibuster, or do what ever it takes to keep these insane bills from meeting Obama’s pen. Offering their own “lite” versions as alternatives isn’t satisfactory, however, and in my opinion just shows they haven’t learned a damned thing from their mistakes even after being reduced to a small minority because of them.

  47. Yep, take an undemocratic institution (albeit a constitutionally agreed to undemocratic institution), the US Senate, and allow it to become even more undemocratic. How much power do I have to give shithead Wyoming cowboys if I am a poor, urban voter? Apparently endless.

    1. How much power do I have to give shithead Wyoming cowboys if I am a poor, urban voter?

      They feel the same way about you. The difference is they mostly want to be left alone by your ‘democracy’. That’s why the states were supposed to have enough influence to protect themselves.

      Democracy == slavery. That’s why we were not given a democracy.

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  49. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke

  50. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…

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