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  • powwow commented on the blog post My Dad

    2013-01-25 19:45:48View | Delete

    I’m shocked. Scarecrow…

    Such a bedrock of support for Jane and FDL, and so obviously a decent, caring man, who took pains not to lash out in anger at anyone in his frequent posts and comments.

    I remember Scarecrow’s quiet modesty, his occasional self-ribbing, fond references to his adult children, and how recently he retired (or so it seems) from the electrical regulatory field work he would draw on when his long experience helped inform related debates. How truly dedicated he was to his children it appears we scarcely knew, judging by this powerful, touching tribute from his son. You do your father proud, Chris.

    One highlight of John’s many contributions to FDL debates and commentary was his informative coverage of the 2011 disaster in Japan – tracking technical details about the tsunami-caused nuclear plant mayhem for months – which was timely and superb.

    Not having heard about his grim diagnosis, received shortly before November’s election, I thought of Scarecrow when Elizabeth Warren won Scott Brown’s Senate seat last fall, and hoped Scarecrow felt vindication (or relief?), given how much he seemed to dislike the idea of being represented for even a 2-year term by Brown – back when some Democrats openly supported Brown in order to block Coakley’s rubberstamp on the backroom-written Obamacare/health insurance bill…

    WHAT a tragic, untimely loss of a special man and gentle soul.

    BLESSINGS to you and all of your family, Chris, and to everyone Scarecrow touched here at firedoglake.com.

  • …impressive performance of the military judges on the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces…

    Important clarification: Though those appellate judges serve in the military justice system, the UCMJ requires that the CAAF judges be from civilian life. So unlike the military officers appointed to the new Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR) appellate court (and lower UCMJ-governed service appellate courts), the judges I’m praising are not (current or former) military officers, but civilians. [The CMCR's claim to fame is that after finally getting around to ruling on the Hamdan and Bahlul Guantanamo "war crime" conviction appeals (the first and possibly last two such appeals), their effort to preserve the Commission verdict(s) was unhesitatingly overturned in Hamdan by the first federal court panel to review the hackneyed CMCR decision - which promoted a fantasy "American common law of war" to try to save the manufactured, supposedly international-law-of-war-crime Commission convictions of the two non-citizens.]

  • Thank you, Kevin, for your dedicated, tireless effort to capture the verbal proceedings of the military courtroom as best you can. This is certainly a damning account of the politicized moral cowards who pose as military officers at the Quantico Marine Corps base.

    Given the brass polishers who populate the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the only possibility of any responsible party at Quantico being required to “hold the bag,” for their cruel toying with Manning’s body and mind, likely rests with whatever integrity remains in the judges of the regular (as opposed to the irregular, for-foreigners-only Guantanamo) military justice system. [And I'll attest that some integrity does still exist there, after the very impressive performance of the military judges on the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces who heard your Manning-related appeal in October. Hearing the frank, thorough, well-informed, yet modest questioning of that judicious panel of judges was a very welcome change from the performance of many federal appellate court judges, including the self-important Supreme Court justices.]

    I want to thank you, too, for the outstanding statement you made in an earlier Manning post – that I spotted a couple of weeks ago while engrossed in tracking and tweeting the media coverage of the SSG Bales Article 32 hearing – which may well have helped prompt the increased attendance of reporters you saw at Tuesday’s Article 13 court session:

    There were only two credentialed journalists, who managed to show up here yesterday—Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News and I. There were two or three others in the public gallery, including Nathan Fuller and Alexa O’Brien, who have regularly attended as members of the public to cover developments in Manning’s court martial. Other than that, no other press were here for a significant hearing in the court martial.


    Fifteen thousand journalists went to Charlotte, North Carolina, to cover the Democratic National Convention. How many journalists are in and around DC? And, aren’t there students in colleges or universities possibly studying journalism that could be coming to these proceedings to cover and see history unfold?

    The press has no access to court records in the case (something I and other journalists are suing the government over). When statements are made in court that are critical, it falls on the very few reporters there to get it out to the public. If it is heard or interpreted incorrectly or if what is reported is not understood by the public, there is no guarantee confusion will be dispelled. The defense may do a posting to their blog, but that does not mean some of the details the press and public are interested in will be fully clarified.

    All of which is to say, when one reflects on how much coverage there was of Daniel Ellsberg, it is hard to not conclude that there should be much more coverage of Manning’s court martial. In the whole of the United States, there should be more than two to five journalists showing up regularly to cover the proceedings. - Kevin Gosztola, 11/8/12

  • powwow commented on the diary post Military Madness: Suicides Spike, ‘Rogue’ Sergeant Bales and Foreclosure Killings by wendydavis.

    2012-06-11 15:45:45View | Delete

    he man US Military spokespeople had initially referred to as a ‘Rogue Soldier’ who has reportedly admitted to killing 16 and wounding five villagers, nine of them children, in Kandahar Province on March 10 11.

    Wendy – That reported/implied Bales “admission” was a very early, carefully planted misdirection of major proportions by Secretary Panetta, that seems to have worked [...]

  • Few things indicate the absence of representative democracy in the US more clearly than the near unanimous unwillingness of elected officials to be honest with the citizenry about what is going on.

    Amen, Otto.

    I note again that, other than its brief initial public “organizational meeting” on September 8th, held to give opening statements and formally adopt its (privately-negotiated) rules, the Joint Select Super Committee has not held a single public meeting to deliberate on the options before it. Not one public mark-up, or drafting session, has been held by this committee, with time now running out for the committee to act on any unamendable product that 7 of its 12 members may decide to try to shove through Congress next month. [As a related aside, I heard, in passing, a brief radio clip a day or two ago, from an interview of Matthew Yglesias of ThinkProgress.org, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and The Atlantic, who was busy calmly excusing such committee secrecy by asserting that he could see no possible point or advantage in having the 12 powerful Super Committee members conduct (at least some, or most, of) their deliberative business in public. Matthew, at least, apparently has the (unaccountable) government he deserves...]

    Meanwhile, today the committee held only its fourth (and probably its last) public “hearing” since it was established in August, featuring Simpson and Bowles of Simpson-Bowles, and Rivlin and Domenici of an earlier Bipartisan Commission deficit study. The witnesses of the Super Committee’s previous three hearings were only two men: The director of the Congressional Budget Office (who explicitly told the self-important members of the committee, in both hearings at which he was the sole witness, that any proposal that 7 committee members wish to adopt must be given to CBO by about now, 11/1, in order to be scored and accurately drafted before 11/23), and a staffer from the Joint Committee on Taxation.

    [The testimony today made painfully, if predictably and disgracefully, clear that the "Affordable Care Act," as secretly drafted and championed by Barack Obama and his Congressional YesMen and Women, utterly failed to address the urgent problem of soaring medical costs in this nation, and therefore the parallel explosion of Medicare/Medicaid costs with which the federal budget must contend. Rep. Becerra mentioned, but regrettably didn't pursue, the vital point that there is no way to meaningfully address/reduce the federal budget's Medicare/Medicaid costs in isolation from the larger societal costs of health care, without simply shifting those costs onto Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries who are the least able to absorb them. Erskine Bowles, to his credit, explicitly cited, at least twice today, "single-payer" health care and a "robust public option" as two of the most promising potential solutions to the still-unaddressed, structural health care cost and quality problems in the nation as a whole.]

    Apparently proposals are now being floated to extend the Super Committee’s life, in case it cannot or will not meet its 11/23 deadline to act. I don’t know how realistic or viable these proposals are, but apparently Rivlin & Domenici privately consulted with some ‘experts,’ who told them that Section 404 of the Budget Control Act is written broadly enough to allow the Super Committee to delegate the details of tax reform to the regular taxwriting committees in Congress, under the overall direction of the Super Committee, and even to allow those committees to subsequently ram their product, whatever it may be, through the rest of Congress next year using the same grossly-undemocratic process, barring all amendments and almost all debate (a total of two hours for the 435 members of the House, for example), that would apply to a Super Committee product this year. There’s also apparently talk of some sort of “resolution” that the Committee could propose to the House and Senate to extend its deadline for action – prospects unknown.

  • powwow commented on the diary post Analysis of the Trade Agreement Sell Out of the Majority by Liz Berry.

    2011-10-13 12:40:32View | Delete

    Thanks, Liz. Well done. To be fair to Tom Coburn, he underwent prostate cancer surgery Monday in Oklahoma, and was thus unable to be present to cast his vote. But speaking of cowards, there were lots of ways for Senators who passionately opposed these deals – including Sherrod Brown of OH and Bob Casey of PA [...]

  • Like Tom Udall of New Mexico (trying not to smirk today on the Senate floor, while pretending that Senate precedents are the same thing as Senate rules), Harry Reid obviously prides himself on his ability to lie to the American people with a straight face.

    It’s pretty astonishing that intelligent writers at FDL either continue to fall for such lies or, worse, know better, but, for reasons of partisan advantage or credential-building, or otherwise, can’t be bothered to enlighten their readers about the snake-in-the-grass tactics of Mr. Reid.

    For example, I absolutely and heartily agree with this statement by David (although I assume that we disagree about why it’s “the answer”):

    The answer is to end this phony process of super-majorities and unanimous consent and painless [so-called] filibusters that has slowed the Senate to molasses.

    But since I’ve taken the time to educate myself about how the Senate rules and precedents do and don’t affect “the phony process of supermajorities and unanimous consent and painless [so-called] filibusters” (and don’t have a stake in artificially propping up the reputation of the Democratic Party), I can immediately spot all the Party-peddled fallacies in the sentence that immediately preceded that conclusion (bracketed insertions added by me):

    But it’s almost [much] more abusive to respond to this [- that is, to attempts to suspend the rules for the purpose of proposing pre-cloture/post-cloture non-germane floor amendments in cases where the Majority Leader has abusively blocked all floor amending by "filling the tree" -] with narrow [undemocratic] blockages like making non-germane [germane (since, under Rule 22, all "non-germane" post-cloture amendments were already "out of order")] post-cloture amendments [,offered via motions to suspend, automatically ruled] dilatory.

    [There's a reason the Democrats carefully avoided a public floor debate Thursday evening about what they were doing/had done.]

    And because I have a pretty good understanding of the game that Reid is playing with the rules and precedents of the Senate, for perceived partisan gain at the expense of the institution itself, I also understand how completely counterproductive and reckless is David’s proffered “solution” – which conveniently ignores the indisputable facts about how a “supermajority” Senate has been allowed, by the Reid-led Democratic Caucus (which has played an historically-unprecedented role in fostering the present state of affairs), to displace the simple-majority default regular order and rules of that institution:

    If Harry Reid is sincere about the abuse being done to the Senate, he should use the same procedures he used last week to abolish the super-majority Senate once and for all.

    Anyone paying close attention understands that Harry Reid himself is wholly insincere about protecting the democratic, deliberative nature of the public Senate that his predecessors preserved for the benefit of today’s ungrateful, public-debate-shunning incumbents. I think that Reid, together with the irresponsible, hands-off followers in both Party caucuses, has probably done more to damage that institution – through abusive practices – than perhaps any Majority Leader since that position was, regrettably, first invented a century or so ago.

    Reid pretending to make a big deal about an occasional motion to suspend the rules (with one day’s notice), when unanimous consent to do the same is routinely asked for and granted daily, with no notice, by Reid himself, and others in the Senate, would be laughable if it wasn’t so intentionally deceitful.

    Anyone who prefers a Party-unfiltered explanation of last week’s ugly suppression by the Democratic Party, and its Majority Leader, of democratic deliberative legislating in the Senate, is welcome to read my extensively-documented account, posted at FDL last Friday.

    Others might be interested in this excerpted version, which explains, to the best of my ability, the key procedural facts that Reid carefully omitted from his self-serving op-ed:

    It should be noted, first of all, that it was Harry Reid, not Mitch McConnell or any other Republican, who actually made the motion to suspend the rules Thursday evening, against which a point of order (again made by Reid, asserting that his own motion was “dilatory” under Rule 22…) was immediately raised. Yes, several Republicans had, in accordance with Rule V, filed notice the day before that they intended to make such motions to suspend, in hopes of having their amendments to S. 1619 (the currency bill) considered on the floor, but if my explanations below are correct, they were never going to get that opportunity absent unanimous consent to do so – because Harry Reid had the amendment “tree” filled from the moment the motion to proceed to S. 1619 was agreed to Tuesday, until Reid made his move to change Senate precedent Thursday evening (that is, both before and after cloture was invoked on S. 1619 Thursday morning). ["Tree" refers to the diagram that illustrates the necessary parliamentary sequence for offering amendments to legislation pending before the Senate.]

    There was so little public discussion on the floor about Thursday’s move (since it resulted from Reid privately conniving with his Caucus to pull this off as some sort of partisan “win” against minority Republicans in the Senate, rather than as any sort of necessary reform to Senate procedures), that no explanation or recitation of the specific precedent that was being challenged and overturned was publicly proffered. But as Reid undoubtedly knew, if, in fact, such a post-cloture motion to suspend the rules for the purpose of proposing an amendment (which is akin to a unanimous consent request to do the same) in fact qualified as “dilatory” under Rule 22, his point of order was a wholly-unnecessary move, because Rule 22 precedent already “requires” the Chair to rule any such dilatory amendment out of order, without prompting from the floor (notably, no such ruling had been made). In addition, existing precedent under Rule 22 decrees any post-cloture “non-germane” amendment out of order, if any Senator makes a point of order against it.

    So presumably all that Reid, or any other Senator, had to do to deep-six without a vote 6 of the 7 Republican amendments (the 6 admittedly non-germane amendments that Senators were hoping to offer via the motions to suspend), was to make a point of order as to their lack of germaneness, that the Chair would have sustained – without requiring any appeal or vote to overturn existing Senate precedent. But, notably, it appears that even that step was not necessary Thursday for Democrats to avoid voting on these motions to suspend, because, with the tree filled by Reid, it was necessary for the Republicans in question to first receive unanimous consent before their motions to suspend post-cloture would be in order for the purposes of offering an amendment, as indicated by a parliamentary inquiry McConnell made Thursday evening. [The response to McConnell's inquiry was: "The PRESIDING OFFICER. Once an amendment slot is available, the motion to suspend is in order." Note that "tree" in the phrase "filling the tree" is a reference to the diagram that illustrates the necessary parliamentary sequence for offering amendments to legislation pending before the Senate.]

    In other words, absent unanimous consent, none of these, or any other, amendments had been able to be called up pre-cloture, because Reid filled the amendment tree on Tuesday immediately after the motion to proceed to S. 1619 had been agreed to. Likewise, as indicated by that response to McConnell’s parliamentary inquiry, absent unanimous consent, none of these amendments were in order to be called up – this time by motions to suspend – post-cloture either, because the tree was still filled. Whereas, when the tree is not filled – as should be the normal course of events – then, unlike the situation Thursday (with the tree filled), unanimous consent would not be required before a Senator could make such a motion to suspend to offer an amendment post-cloture, as things stood before Thursday’s change in Senate precedent.

    So because Reid had filled the tree, Reid was the only one able to make the motion to suspend, in Coburn’s name, that he made Thursday evening – as excerpted in the diary – without unanimous consent. Before he could do so, Reid first had to “withdraw” at least one of his pending amendments that was helping to fill the tree. And that’s exactly what Reid did when he started this stunt at 6:33 p.m. Thursday: Reid first partially unfilled the tree – withdrew his own second-degree nonsense blocking amendment to make an amendment slot available – and then immediately made a motion to suspend the rules for the purpose of proposing a Coburn amendment, in order to then make a point of order against his own motion to suspend. [Is it really "in order" under Senate precedent to make a "point of order" against yourself...?]

    So on top of everything else that flows from Reid’s grossly-undemocratic abuses of power in blocking Senate floor amending, no Republican was independently going to be able to make a motion to suspend post-cloture without first receiving unanimous consent to do so. That power only exists – like the pre-cloture regular order power to amend – when an amendment slot is available – that is, when the tree is not pre-filled by nonsense amendments designed only to prevent the Senate from legislating in public.

    Thus, the Senate precedent that was created, without debate, by the majority Democrats Thursday evening, 10/6, in effect permanently “filled the tree” post-cloture for all future legislation, blocking consideration of any and all amendments for which the Senate has not already given its unanimous pre-cloture consent for their sponsor to be allowed to pierce the Fake Quorum Call long enough to simply offer them on the floor for a vote.

    As just the latest demonstration of how Harry Reid himself routinely plays fast and loose with Senate procedure, when it suits his own purposes (which have little to do with democratic debate or legislating), note that late Thursday, just before adjournment for the weekend at 10 p.m. – and with the Senate still (technically) in the midst of post-cloture consideration of S. 1619 (the currency bill) – Reid asked for and received unanimous consent to, in effect, suspend (with no notice) the same Rule 22 (“notwithstanding the provisions of rule XXII”), so that he could:

    1. Make an unrelated motion to proceed to S. 1660 (some version of the White House-authored American Jobs Act);

    2. Immediately file a supermajority cloture motion (signed by 17 Democrats) “to bring to a close debate” on his just-proffered motion to proceed to S. 1660 (plus ask for and receive unanimous consent for a vote on said cloture motion at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, though the Senate is scheduled to convene for the week at 2:00 p.m. that day, which under Rule 22 means a cloture vote at 3 p.m.); and

    3. Then withdraw his motion to proceed to S. 1660;

    All of which Reid successfully did late Thursday, hours after his ugly partisan manipulation of Senate precedent, without receiving a single objection from any Senator.

  • powwow commented on the diary post The UT Lifeboat: a site to comment on Glenn Greenwald’s articles by UT Lifeboat.

    2011-10-10 20:30:54View | Delete

    Unfortunately, Helen, editing of comments at the MyFDL section of firedoglake.com is indeed a privilege reserved only for the “Lifeboat Captain” (the author of the diary), with regard to their own comments in the thread. MyFDL suddenly unveiled a software rewrite about a year ago, now, I think, not unlike what salon.com just did — [...]

  • A while back I made note of a blog post by First Amendment scholar and blogger Eugene Volokh, that linked to a new article of his on the subject. His paper sounds like a good resource for anyone trying to stay clear of First Amendment trip wires while reforming the federal campaign-financing system:

    “The Freedom … of the Press,” from 1791 to 1868 to Now — Freedom for the Press as an Industry, or the Press as a Technology?

    A follow-up volokh.com post by Eugene – like the first – includes comments that may add some further helpful input for anyone interested.

    Here’s how Eugene describes his new article, in response to a commenter:

    Does this article have a different thesis that Edward Lee’s article, Freedom of the Press 2.0, which seems to make the same point?

    [EV says: Lee’s article and mine do come to the same bottom line about the history, at least as to the Framing era, which is also the same bottom line reached by Chief Justice Burger in his First Nat’l Bank of Boston v. Bellotti concurrence, as well as by others. The difference is in the amount and nature of the evidence the different articles and opinions collect; I think that my article is the first to extensively canvass the earlier caselaw.]

  • If anyone in the Senate wonders how, or why, members of the House today have been reduced to routinely pleading for just a minute or two of time to debate on the floor, even on measures of the most consequence to the nation – something, moreover, that’s generally only granted to members constituting a small subset [...]

  • For the record, here’s Harry Reid officially unfilling the amendment tree Thursday evening at 6:33 p.m., just long enough to make a post-cloture motion to suspend the rules to propose a Tom Coburn amendment (which no other Senator had the ability to do with the tree filled), so that Reid could make a point of order [...]

  • That elaboration in turn helps to further make the case for the need to challenge and drastically limit use and abuse of the “convenient” Fake Quorum Call in the Senate, which has, slowly but surely over the years under Party manipulation, been allowed to grow to such an extent that it now poses a grave [...]

  • I’ve just updated the diary with more on the procedural facts and effects of the manipulation of Senate precedent that Reid and the Democratic Caucus engaged in Thursday, including the following elaboration:

    In other words, absent unanimous consent, none of these amendments had been able to be called up pre-cloture, because Reid filled the amendment tree on [...]

  • But as to your final question as to “who has the right” my “tired of theater” mind wants to think it is the majority and that cloture has a stronger meaning than our GOP friends suggest.” In the sense you mean, absolutely: In the absence of anyone seeking recognition on the (“live”) floor, when a majority [...]

  • I absolutely agree with you, S.P., about the insanity of funneling public money into the maws of the corporate-profit-serving, public-service-spurning media, for misleading and uninformative 30-second campaign commercials, and all the rest of the present over-priced campaign infrastructure.

    It sounded, though, like Professor Lessig thinks that there are Constitutional hurdles to the proposal(s) in your Second point @ 116 above. Assuming that there wouldn’t be such hurdles, I’d enthusiastically embrace some such approach as you suggest, to limit costs (and, if possible, the duration) of campaigns, in tandem with a new public financing system. But if there are likely to be Constitutional problems with such limitations or cost-restrictions, that seems to be an area where some creative thinking is needed to try to solve the problem short of a Constitutional amendment, if possible. I certainly haven’t done any such creative thinking about this, but perhaps you, or Professor Lessig, or someone else already has. It sounds like some strategy sessions to get into the weeds and to search for any workable solutions to that dilemma might be in order.

  • It was a pleasure reading your incisive responses, Professor Lessig.

    But the key is to recognize that we need no constitutional change at all to fight for the first essential step: public funding of public elections.

    That’s very good news. I hadn’t fully taken that fact in, despite sharing your conviction about the necessity of campaign-finance reform as an essential step in reclaiming our Congress. Eli here at FDL, I know, has been making the case for such reforms regularly and compellingly, but without a specific plan of action – no doubt, as you note, because of the great difficulty in finding feasible avenues of attack.

    My own present sense of a potentially-doable ‘way out’ of the corrupt status quo is to try to reform federal elections through a Congressional insider/outsider partnership, if only with an immediate objective of greater publicity for the cause. Which, given your present position, immediately brings to mind Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren (or perhaps one of the other Boston-based candidates for U.S. Senate) – who, I hope, has already had, or will soon have, the wisdom to consult with you to learn from your long experience in this area.

    The still-unanswered question about Warren (though I watched the first Democratic debate among the six candidates the other night), is whether or not she, like you, can shed any personal loyalty to the President and to Party leadership (never mind to the Funders), in order to publicly act as an independent-thinker in the Senate, if elected. As I see it, a great deal of progress toward taking down the Two-Party rigging in Congress, and in publicly advancing needed change, would be possible with just one such, popularly-supported, widely-recognized, outspoken Senator.

    What too few seem to recognize, though, is that one such Senator is not likely to be alone anymore. There is obviously great, if mostly publicly-unvoiced, distress among incumbent (particularly newer) Senators about the present state of their institution (never mind their public approval levels), as it’s being operated under tight, top-down Party control.

    And the Democratic Caucus majority under Reid just sent a shot across the bow of those unhappy Senators Thursday night that the leadership of both Parties may soon come to regret. At least I know how I’d react to such a heavy-handed effort by a skulking majority (afraid even to debate their stunt, taken before a long weekend to little notice) to shut me up and keep my voice from being heard and my will from being heeded on the floor of the Senate, if I was a publicly-elected member of that body.

    There are, after all, it appears, some simple ways to challenge and lift the silence that generally blankets the Senate Chamber on a daily basis now, as a means of beginning to reclaim control of floor proceedings from the hands of the backroom Party operators. And there just might be a Senator finally ready and willing to utilize those methods of returning the Senate (that is, its responsibilities and its workload, as well as its power) to individual Senators – even if only to force the majority to start taking seriously the concerns of the minority (and, I would hope, of at least some in the majority), about being prevented from doing basic legislating on measures brought before the Senate, as they were sent there to do.

    As things now stand, as highlighted in my diary yesterday describing what happened Thursday, today’s Senators now seem to quake at the thought of merely casting votes in public, never mind debating in public. (Though Mitch McConnell candidly pointed out Thursday that when he was the whip during a Republican Senate majority, he heard the same “whining” from his Senators about the need to simply cast a vote on certain topics. But unlike Reid, who indulges what are essentially “secret holds” on amendments objected to by his Caucus, McConnell responded to the members of his former majority Caucus that those votes were the price of being in the Senate, where the minority can still be heard. Consolidated power continues to consolidate power…) Antonin Scalia, in interesting testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, probably put his finger on it more than he knows, when he asked Senator Blumenthal (who was pressing Scalia & Breyer to begin televising Supreme Court proceedings) whether the Senate (and House) as an institution had been improved, or at least left undamaged, by the introduction of television coverage of its proceedings… (Scalia, surprisingly, seemed quite informed about and interested in the different styles and systems of government in many other countries, which he touched on as he lauded our own design of separated powers to an unaccountable, and therefore indifferent, Committee – Mike Lee impressively excepted. Scalia also used the old, apt phrase ‘nothing but a parchment guarantee‘ to describe why the design of the separation of powers is essential in making those parchment-recorded pledges more than words. After all, Scalia noted, the USSR had a “Bill of Rights” that left the U.S. Bill of Rights in the dust – except, of course, that there was no intent in the USSR, and thus no government structure designed, to actually make those words a reality.)

    Where is the Senate going, if even less than the little business – basically only final, foregone-conclusion vote casting – that’s now conducted in the public Senate Chamber, will be conducted there in future? Are we going to lose all deliberative debate in the public Senate, as we’ve already lost it in the House (some minor reforms this year aside)? That’s the ominous, unhealthy situation that’s urgently facing every incumbent in, and every candidate for, the U.S. Senate.

    In sum, as indicated here, I think that the present state of affairs gives outsiders an opening to find and work with some (even if only a few) frustrated insiders, and/or challengers, toward a common goal that would directly and publicly confront the corruptions of centralized Party/Funder control of Congress. At a minimum, I think that such an approach should be kept in mind as one potential avenue of attack as events unfold, because many insiders aren’t exactly happy campers themselves these days.

    P.S. To Glenn – Nice to see you here, and good luck with your book tour – on a very timely subject; you should’ve heard Stephen Breyer Wednesday, describing his glorious, abstract view of the Supreme Court as the “boundary patrol” of the separated powers – apparently oblivious to the fact that his Court has let the D.C. Circuit unilaterally dismantle Boumediene (on which, by careful design of those to whom he spoke, no SCOTUS-worthy “circuit split” is possible), and that federal judges as a whole continue, in the face of the most egregious federal abuses, to bow down before The National Security, “boundaries” be damned. [Conveyed here because I'm one of the frozen-out, thanks to salon.com's recent "improvements," and will probably be in permanent lurker status at your place in future.]

  • A tweet from Glenn about half an hour ago, tuezday:

    I’m hosting Larry @Lessig at FDL Book Salon to discuss his important new book on legalized corruption: today, 5pm EST

  • “Senate Rule 5 says the Standing Rules rules can be changed by putting in a rule in the standing rules – indeed they do not change between Congresses unless the Senate changes the standing rules – as it just did by legislation on appropriations” Senate Standing Rule 5, in its entirety:


  • “In any case, the rules are adopted anew with the start of every Congress…” That is indisputably not the case in the Senate, papau, and hasn’t been seen Day One of that institution. In addition, if you’ve been researching or reading about this issue at all, you know that there is no “filibuster rule” in the Senate; using [...]

  • (Which is, of course, their intention and purpose.) You can say that again, BeachPopulist. I note that even the former Senior Counsel (1996-2004) for the House of Representatives (which, admittedly is a different animal from the Senate) – and former Deputy Investigative Staff Director for a Senate committee – is struggling with this stunt of Reid’s [...]

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