Legislation Fatigue

I have been contemplating the recent election and what the shellacking of Democrats by Republicans “means” if anything.

The first point is that it means it was a mid-term election.  I have already pointed this out back in January.

The second point is that the economy is weak and the unemployment rate is high.  So the election result can be construed to reflect the voters frustration with that situation.  The problem with this is that the election results did not give us a government that is likely to do much, if anything, about the economy.  So to say that the voters were voting the economy is to say that the voters voted against their own interest.

There are those who say the voters delivered a mandate to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  But again, the government the voters created is not going to repeal the act (at best the House will have a vote on this), so it makes no sense to claim the electorate wanted repeal when the electorate didn’t come close to voting for a government that could deliver such a thing.

Some voters were voting for fiscal responsibility.  Most of those were voting for the party that was less likely to deliver that, but this is not relevant to our discussion.

Sure, there were plenty of individual voters who were voting the economy or voting repeal of health care reform, but I am looking for the meaning of the election result, not the motives of individual voters.

What did the voters give us?  They gave (we gave ourselves) a divided government.  It sure looks like we will have gridlock for the next two years on everything but the most banal legislation.

Why did the voters give us this?  Legislation fatigue.  Are we not all (those of us paying any attention at all) just a bit exhausted from the last two years of congress?  I was ready for more, but I concede that I could use a break.  Now we all have a chance to catch our breath.

But How?!!?

From The Huffington Post:

Former Congressman and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo told an audience on Thursday at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville that “people who could not even spell the word ‘vote’, or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House.”

“His name,” Tancredo said, “is Barack Hussein Obama.”

It is interesting how all of those voters who cannot spell the word ‘vote’ or say it in English managed to elect the candidate they wanted, isn’t it?

Leadership

Somehow it already feels like ancient history, but the reader perhaps remembers the hubbub surrounding the book Game Change when it was published eight days ago.  Harry Reid was quoted talking about Obama’s lack of a Negro dialect.  Sarah Palin is also depicted negatively in the book.

Reid’s response was to stand up and admit he said what he said.  And he apologized.

Palin’s response was to simply state that the book was full of lies.

One might look at the two responses and draw conclusions about who is leadership material.

On the other hand, both of them responded in the way that their politics required of them.  Politics required Reid to man up and apologize.  Politics requires Palin to just declare the book to be lies.   (Maybe they are lies.  I don’t know).

With 63% of precincts reporting, the Republican Brown is defeating the Democrat Coakley in the Massachusetts senate race 53% to 46%.  It is not looking good.

Now the Democrats are faced with the question of what to do with health care reform.  Are they leaders or are they craven cowards to the political breeze.

TPM alerts us to the early leap by Indiana’s Bayh to cowardice.

The irony is that if the Dems listen to the lesson of Massachusetts and fail to pass health care, they will lose a lot more this fall then they will if they stand tall and pass the bill.  They already voted for it.

If Coakley does indeed lose, it probably means the end of Cap and Trade.   With luck the global warming deniers are correct.

Will we get leadership or politicians?

History Repeats Itself Whether It Is Remembered Or Not

In the summer of 1982, I was managing a Domino’s Pizza store that served a small college campus.   I had taken over the store right after the college had dismissed for the summer, so business was a bit slow.  One of the first things I did was to chart the weekly sales.

One Monday in July the supervisor arrives with a bit of burn going on.  He pulled me aside and asked me if I knew that the week just ended had had the lowest sales of any week so far that year.  I just smiled and asked him to follow me to the office where I directed his attention to my sales chart.  The week just ended had had the lowest sales of the year every year the store had been open.   My sales were higher than the year before (as they had been every week), but not higher than the week before.  I had no idea why that particular week was historically bad, but it was.

That one moment made charting the sales worth it.

In the off year, the political party in power loses congressional seats.  There may have been an exception or two, but that’s it.  The day the democrats achieved sixty votes in the Senate, anyone who knew anything knew that they would no longer control sixty seats after the 2010 elections.  All of the media talking heads know this.  But why mess with a good story?

There is a bit of drama in Massachusetts in the battle for Kennedy’s senate seat, but other than that the only “newsworthy” items concerning political power in the senate reflect the difficulty the republicans face:

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/mass-retirements-not-so-fast-dems-say.php

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/will-the-dems-lose-their-60-seat-edge-not-necessarily—-gop-could-lose-seats-too.php#more

But in the end, the Democrats will lose seats.  It is the way it is.

It Doesn’t Hurt…

…as long as I only pat my lower back.  Click the Mike Pence tag for my earlier posts on this subject.

Mike Pence has not made any announcements that he is running for president.  But now he is in the top five!!!

The recent Values Voter Summit included a straw poll for 2012 and

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence each won roughly 12 percent of the 597 votes cast.

Huckabee won with 29%.

The momentum builds….

:)

Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat

Senator Kennedy has requested that the Massachusetts legislature and governor move to change the law regarding how a vacant Senate seat is filled.  Kennedy’s interest is due to his own serious health issue and the precarious nature of health reform legislation in the US Senate.  Health reform has been one of Kennedy’s top concerns his entire career.

Noam Scheiber over at The New Republic thinks it would be a bad idea for Massachusetts to change the law.

Scheiber thinks that Kennedy’s vacant seat after his death would increase the likelihood that health reform legislation would pass.

it would be suicidal for the GOP to filibuster the culmination of the last Kennedy brother’s lifelong crusade.

I see two problems here.  I’m not convinced it would be suicidal for the GOP to do that (though possibly).  More importantly, I doubt the GOP would see it that way.

Further, I don’t see what difference it would make if Kennedy’s seat was filled by the governor’s appointment or not.  If the GOP did believe it suicidal to “filibuster the culmination of the last Kennedy brother’s lifelong crusade” why would the seat being filled change that calculation?

Scheiber goes on to say:

I suspect the coverage of Kennedy’s death would silence healthcare reform critics and boost proponents in a way that netted at least a couple of wavering moderates–so clearing the 51-vote threshold wouldn’t be a problem. Heck, you might even see Utah Republican (and longtime Kennedy friend) Orrin Hatch back in the reformist camp.

This may very well be true, but again, I don’t see how the governor naming someone to fill the vacant seat disrupts this all that much.  An addition of a couple of moderate votes would be helpful to get to 60.

Finally, Scheiber is assuming that Kennedy is concerned about what will happen after his death.  It could be that Kennedy is prepared to resign the moment Massachusetts makes the appropriate change in the law.  Kennedy might be at the point where he now knows he will never be on the floor of the Senate again, but also knowing his vote (read:  his replacement’s vote) will be needed.

I can see an argument that Massachusetts should not change the law based on the idea that laws should not be altered for political expediency.  The Massachusetts law used to allow the governor to appoint someone to a vacant Senate seat but the legislature changed it when there was a faint hope that Kerry would vacate the seat to become President and the Massachusetts governor at the time was a Republican.  Not that I would be persuaded in this particular case by such an argument, but it is a good one (and should have been heeded the first time around).

Missed Opportunity

Today seems to feature a short video of Congressman Barney Frank responding to a town hall attendee asking about the Nazi policies in the health care reform.

Frank responds to her with a dismissive insult. It is funny. And, yes, I would not argue with the statement that she deserved the response she got. From what I’ve seen around the internet, lots of Democrats are giddy with delight over Frank’s response.

I’ve been watching the “highlights” from various town meetings for a couple of weeks or so. Lots of shouting from people who are against health care reform. Not discussion, but disruption. I understand how frustrating that can get. People yell out stuff based on lies and no opportunity to explain how they are wrong is allowed.

Frank gets the rare case of a citizen asking a belligerent question in a civil manner. She asks the question and then she stops talking. Frank could actually take a minute and explain why her assumptions are incorrect. He could explain how the Nazi comparison makes no sense. But no, he is dismissive and insulting.

To be clear, I seriously doubt that there is anything that Frank could have said to change how the woman feels about the issue. But it is possible that a few people would see the video of the exchange and learn something.

As it is, the video simply justifies the antics that have taken place previously (with more to come, no doubt). Why not shout down the opponent when the opponent is only going to indulge in insults.

It probably makes no difference, but it would be nice if some Democrat actually explained why health care reform is not leading us down the road to a fascist state (and why there was never any plans for death panels that would pull the plug on grandma….and….)

More Pence for Pres

I first blogged that Indiana congressman Mike Pence was considering running for President in 2012 on June 17.

Congressional Quarterly picked up on my posted the idea on July 13 (as I already noted).

And now The New Republic also posts the idea (though with the caveat that he was not likely to win).

I notice today that Pence’s blog has now been completely taken down.  “This website has been disabled

Facts?

It is interesting to me how often people I talk to do not believe in “facts”.  Maybe it is true, maybe it isn’t.  Who’s to say?  That there is no shortage of talking heads out there with no more agenda than ratings and a willingness to just make stuff up (or repeat what someone else made up) certainly contributes to this phenomenon.

But there are facts.  Jonathan Chait has a nice post up over at The New Republic talking about some facts.

One example is it is a fact that in England, the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are government employees.  It is also a fact that this kind of arrangment is not even being considered by Obama and the congress.   More at the link.

Increasingly the right side of the political spectrum seems to be spending its time with hands over the ears chanting “no, no, no, no”.

No, we do not accept evolution.

No, we do not accept man caused climate change.

No, we do not accept that the currant health care system is in crisis.

It would be nice if there could be a discussion of facts instead of rants.

Its Nice To Learn That Evrybodys So Concerned About My Health.

Kris Kristofferson sings

Well, they finally came and told me they was a gonna set me free
And Id be leavin town if I knew what was good for me
I said, its nice to learn that evrybodys so concerned about my health.

The Republican’s concern over health care reform reminds me of that song.  To be clear, the Republicans primary goal here is to have nothing done.  One need look no further than the years 2003 through 2007.  In those years the Republicans had majorities in both houses of congress and the presidency.  Did they do anything about health care?  No. It is not like the health care problems that we have just appeared in the last two years.

Any Republican discussion about “doing it right” and “going slow” really just means preventing anything from happening.