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?


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/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


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.